kim jage, world tea media, world tea expo
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The Tea House Times Presents

AN INTERVIEW WITH KIM JAGE, WORLD TEA MEDIA

 

This month, we are interviewing Kim Jage, executive vice president of World Tea Media, producers of World Tea Expo and the North American Tea Championship. World Tea Expo will be held June 24-26, 2011 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada.  

 

 

GAIL GASTELU/THE TEA HOUSE TIMES:  I enjoyed reading your recent news release concerning current tea trends that will be discussed at the Expo.  The headline said, “From Sexy, Modern Tea Wares to an Emphasis on Tea Origins, Thousands of Tea Professionals Are Gearing Up to Focus on the Latest Tea Trends, June 24 – 26 in Las Vegas.” So, what trends are most exciting to you?

 

KIM JAGE/WORLD TEA MEDIA:  All of the trends are exciting to me, really, but there are certainly some key trends that are stand-outs right now—and all of these will be evident on the show floor at World Tea Expo or discussed a lot in the conference sessions. The big trends that we’re seeing and paying attention to include: a growing emergence of tea-specific retailers; sexy and modern tea ware; celebrity tea lines; men, Millennials and tea; innovative tea packaging; organic teas and sustainability; an emphasis on tea culture; classification from “specialty” to “premium” tea; and social media.

 

GAIL GASTELU/THE TEA HOUSE TIMES:  Let’s talk about men and sexy, modern tea wares.  They may not even know it, but I think women are attracted to men who very openly sport any kind of tea ware with a tea bag clearly in view.  Somehow tea-drinking men send a message of calmness and a soft side.  Do you think men gravitate towards modern sexy tea wares? Or what is it about tea that appeals to men in general?  Is it the health aspect? Or sex appeal…or both? 

 

KIM JAGE/WORLD TEA MEDIA:  This is a fun topic and those are great questions.  I think it’s a combination of a lot of things that have helped tea make an impression on men.  Social media is certainly a factor in introducing tea to men and making it “cool” to drink.  And yes, having a tea pot that isn’t pink with flowers also helps.  I agree that tea-drinking men exude a refinement, whereas men drinking Monster just looses all appeal.  Also, tea has really become a media darling of late, so men are seeing tea in a new light.  In addition, tea companies are specifically marketing to men and Millennials; they’re even offering product lines that target men.  For example: Dethlefsen & Balk has Men's Activity Tea; Florapharm Tea USA has Herbs for Men tea; and Herbal Experience has PASSION T for the libido.  There’s also Lucky Duck that has a tea for the gambler. RISHI’s Natural Tea Leaf Powders and RUNA’s Amazon Guyusa are also attractive to men.  There’s even the Hob, a camouflage teapot cozy that’s designed with men in mind.

 

GAIL GASTELU/THE TEA HOUSE TIMES:  How do you define modern, sexy tea wares for 2011? How does style and function fit into today’s growing concern for good health and a healthy environment?

 

KIM JAGE/WORLD TEA MEDIA:  As tea is becoming ever more popular with a younger demographic, hip tea ware is really just a natural extension of that.  The tea ware we’re seeing has clean lines, solid colors, is functional and easy to use.  We’re seeing more and more glass ware—double walled to keep from burning your hands—and tea pots that stack into pyramids which are aesthetically pleasing and also convenient.  We’re also seeing more tea ware made out of recycled materials, that’s compostable and BPA free.  Attendees of World Tea Expo will see a lot of this on the show floor and what’s coming down the pipeline in 2011.

 

GAIL GASTELU/THE TEA HOUSE TIMES:  In your news release, you also mention the mindset of a new generation.  That can be taken two ways—as the mindset of a new generation of tea business and a new generation of younger tea lovers as well.  When you have time, I have some great stories to share with you about college age students enjoying tea.  What are you seeing in particular?

 

KIM JAGE/WORLD TEA MEDIA:  I’d love to hear your stories of college age students enjoying tea! We’re definitely seeing a lot of that. One story that comes to mind involves a company called Tiesta Tea, which formed from a group of young men in their early to mid-20s.  They fell in love with specialty tea!  They attended 2010 World Tea Expo and our New Business Boot Camp—armed with nothing more than the idea that they wanted to merge their new found love of tea with a business.  But they had no idea how to do it.  When they left our Expo, they had a newly formed business plan, vendors lined up and a strategy to get their company off the ground.  Today, less than a year later, their tea is in 30 stores and they are thriving.  It’s fantastic.  Tiesta is a great example of what is happening with men, Millennials and tea.  It’s an exciting trend to watch. Also, the fastest growing demographic of attendees at World Tea Expo is between the ages of 18 to 28, and they are men, according to some data from our 2008, 2009 and 2010 events.

 

GAIL GASTELU/THE TEA HOUSE TIMES: Another major trend you mention is celebrities and tea.  I had the pleasure of interviewing Donald Trump recently about his new Trump® Tea line.  You also mentioned Lady GaGa and Padma Lakshmi getting involved in tea.  When you see people like this getting behind something as positive as tea, tea is obviously a growing industry to be considered as the economy begins to heal.

 

KIM JAGE/WORLD TEA MEDIA:  Yes, Donald Trump, Lady GaGa and others are really great for tea. The celebrity trend definitely showcases tea’s heightened standing in the marketplace. I think the popularity of this type of tea line really helps to introduce tea to new audiences. Celebrities are seeing the value in getting into the tea business. We hope these lines will be successful—we think they will be—and we anticipate similar lines emerging in the future.

 

GAIL GASTELU/THE TEA HOUSE TIMES:  One of the most enjoyable parts of exploring tea professionally is the study and appreciation of tea and its many origins and customs.  I always tell people they need to study the leaf and taste and compare many teas to truly appreciate it and confidently market their tea business.  What will be the emphasis on Tea Origins at this year’s expo?

 

KIM JAGE/WORLD TEA MEDIA:  Attendees at 2011 World Tea Expo can expect a greater emphasis placed on traditional tea customs from different countries. We’re seeing the industry and consumers talking more about the origin of the tea they are drinking, the process it took to get here and the cultural customs surrounding it. So much so, in fact, we created a World Origin Tasting Tour at Expo, where we’ll explore tea of six countries in eight hours. 

 

GAIL GASTELU/THE TEA HOUSE TIMES:  Thanks for your time, Kim. I look forward to seeing you in June!

 

World Tea Expo 2011, which is the largest and most prominent event for the tea industry, caters to tea retailers, restaurateurs, food service leaders, hoteliers, spa owners and other business professionals who want to learn more about the latest opportunities and tea trends, which consumers can expect to see more of in the future. The event takes place at the Las Vegas Convention Center, June 24 – 26, and conference registration and details are available at www.WorldTeaExpo.com. Contact Jage at kim@WorldTeaExpo.com.


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